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Monday 6 February 2023 Dublin: 2°C
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# Framework
Ireland players are not just robots following Schmidt's orders -- Conor Murray
“Joe does not stop you from backing yourself,” says the star scrum-half.

IRELAND SCRUM-HALF CONOR Murray yesterday moved to underline the freedom of expression Ireland players still have in the international arena.

While Ireland have equaled a long-standing winning streak of 10 games, Joe Schmidt’s side have continually come in for criticism for the brand of rugby they play and for their strict adherence to a winning gameplan.

With Murray still feeling the effects of the win over England in his muscles – a game he says was the toughest international he’s played since, well, since the last time he played England – the Limerick man insists that Schmidt allows plenty of scope for playmakers to break out of the framework.

“Joe does not stop you from backing yourself. If you see something on, you go for it, that’s absolutely fair enough. But if it doesn’t work out and you put the team under pressure, then you might find yourself talked to,” the MaxiNutrition ambassador says after cramming some sustenance in between a light promotional gym session and the real work that would follow to prep his body for a return to Ireland training tomorrow.

Conor Murray Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“To a certain extent [there are orders to follow] but you don’t go out on the pitch as a robot and just do exactly what you’re told to do. You do have a gameplan and, under any coach, there’s a gameplan that you try and follow it as best you can.

“Look through the video and there’s times we go against the grain of play or do our own thing. If you see the little kick for Robbie: people do back themselves and express themselves if they want to. You can do that within a gameplan as well.”

There will be plenty more discussion around Ireland’s style in the lead up to the next vital Championship clash against Wales on March 13. With Shaun Edwards and Warren Gatland at the helm, the principality certainly won’t be shy about airing a view on the kick-chase tactic that Ireland have used effectively to put themselves within reach of a second consecutive Six Nations title. Ireland, though, won’t be deterred.

They might have a few tweaks here or there to deal with that,” says Murray, “but there’s not much you can do to nullify that. It’s just putting a ball up between two players. Obviously the kick has to be good, but it’s down to who wants it more, who gets up on the day and reclaims the ball.”

“Wales do kick quite a lot as well. Every team has their own core gameplan. Then as you go in to each international, based on the opposition, you might tweak a few things here or there, but essentially you still have the same players and the same type of gameplan.

“So I don’t think they”ll change their gameplan too much. I’m sure they’ll have a look at little things we’re doing as we’ll do with them and it will bring some new ideas to the table.”

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While the critics of Schmidt’s time in charge of Ireland continually point to the number of kicks from hand, the real trademark of the Kiwi’s tenure is the consistency of Ireland’s results. The winning streak has been brought about by a level of unpredictability underneath the favoured tactics, and players like Murray and Jonathan Sexton are crucial to making the system work.

Tweaks

“I suppose you listen to Joe and the coaching staff all the way through the week and they give you the feedback and the correct gameplan and you rep it out, and if there are a few tweaks that he wants to talk to you about he’ll do that.

“But once you go out onto the pitch you should have a clear mind and know exactly what to do, and then in other areas of the game when split seconds decisions are to be made, you back yourself, that’s completely fine as well.”

Ireland’s leading sports nutrition brand, MaxiNutrition is fuelling Conor Murray to be at his best in 2015, For more information, visit MaxiNutrition.com

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